New Commercialization Process Using IoT

Human Centric User Value Provided by UX and Fast-track Commercialization Based on Collaborative Creation with Clients

What does the IoT (Internet of Things) mean to you?

The Internet of Things is enormous in scope. It refers to the concept of connecting people, devices, places and even environments together over the Internet, and it is applicable to all industries in all sectors. But the sheer scale of the IoT means that development and commercialization of new services can be a real challenge. At Fujitsu, we use a Human Centric IoT model with a strong focus on the value to the user provided by UX, and use creation together with the client to accelerate the commercialization process.

The future potential and value that Fujitsu can provide in this way is delivered in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Identify specific industries as the theme focus
  • Phase 2: Prepare concrete UX designs in the chosen industries
  • Phase 3: Use prototypes to test the vision and UX

As part of Phase 1 and Phase 2, the Fujitsu IoT Business Division and Fujitsu Design held a joint IoT Vision Workshop that resulted in an IoT Future Book outlining a range of IoT scenarios for use in business discussions and preliminary business planning negotiations.

IoT Future Book: 30 Future Stories in five sectors (health care, education, traffic, "life industry" and energy smart cities)

An IoT Future Hackathon Secretariat was set up for the purpose of staging two IoT Future Hackathon events geared towards the Phase 3 vision and UX testing. Day 1 was held on April 10, 2015 at the HAB-YU shared space in Roppongi (Tokyo), while Day 2 was held on April 24 at Fujitsu Laboratories in Kawasaki, home of much of the Hackathon work to date. The Hackathon is something of an internal test case that demonstrates the new commercialization process at work.

The primary goal of the IoT Future Hackathon was to draw up service prototypes to be featured in the IoT Future Book, which serves as a reference guide when working with clients on the development of future IoT services. Four priority fields were identified: health care, education, traffic and "life industry."

The Secretariat was made up primarily of internal and external Hackathon testers. The Secretariat selected locations based on prior experience and brought together a variety of different technologies and participants to utilize nominated 13 technologies (some of which were from outside of Fujitsu). Together with 53 staff from 11 different companies in the Fujitsu Group, the participants trialed new commercialization processes for creating the future with Human Centric IoT.

Day 1: Ideathon

Day 1 focused on understanding existing technologies through a Prior Technology Exhibition. Staff from Fujitsu group companies very kindly contributed their time to the exhibition.

We started by convening a technology-sharing meeting between the dedicated Hackathon laboratory and other parts of the Fujitsu Group as well as non-Fujitsu participants active in the IoT field. The meeting explored a range of recent technologies such as drones, wearable gadgets, sensing devices and middleware services, some of which were new even to Fujitsu personnel, and these served as a source of inspiration for the participants.

The Prior Technology Exhibition was followed by an Ideathon. Each participant was given a copy of the IoT Future Book and a list of suggested services compiled in conjunction with Rikkyo University, as the basis for identifying the most promising services for implementation.

Participants used the HAB-YU innovation environment to pool ideas about future indicators (the IoT Future Book) and specific concepts and to generate new suggestions and proposals. In terms of work, there was associative work designed to encourage a broader and more receptive mind-set, as well as the speed-storming of feedback among participants.

Sketching the future

Suggestions and proposals were discussed in small groups and refined based on group feedback. The resulting proposals were then voted on by all present, and the winning groups were asked to present on the background to their development processes. Based on the presentations, participants attached themselves to specific proposals. Ten Hackathon teams were formed in this way, with each team bringing together expertise and experience from a variety of fields such as engineering and design. The teams explored approaches for transforming the basic concepts into reality, aided by staff from the technical divisions.

Collating everyone's thoughts

That marked the conclusion of Day 1. The teams were asked to continue polishing their proposals in the lead-up to Day 2.

Day 2: Hackathon

Day 2 was held at the Fujitsu Laboratories building at Musashi-Nakahara, which boasts extensive development facilities including a lab equipped with soldering irons. Staff have volunteered their time at a number of Hackathon events, sharing expertise and experience on development, networking and presentation environments.

Creating a tactile version of the future

The development phase got underway at 9:30 a.m., and turned out to be a marathon effort by all, limited only by the inevitable time constraints. Some programs had to be created from scratch, while others were already at the combined testing stage. Several teams spent the time focusing on rehearsing their presentations.

All ten teams displayed great enthusiasm and dedication to the task despite the lack of time.

Linking together all manner of things

At the end of the development phase, each team gave a presentation on their completed demonstration system. For most teams the system performed as expected, but some teams encountered the crushing disappointment of having their system fail during the presentation (despite having worked perfectly during the rehearsal).

Mr. Kurose from the IoT Business Division was the IoT Future Hackathon facilitator

The awards ceremony saw prizes given to the first and second-place teams (as voted by the participants) as well as five other prizes including the Facilitator's Award, the Lab Prize and the Good Design Prize.

The first place award is presented to the winning team by Mr. Takano from Fujitsu Design

In a closing survey of participants, over 90% of the respondents described the event as both enjoyable and instructive. In addition, more than half of those who attended reported a sense of innovation and discovery during the Ideathon and Hackathon (development phase).

The Hackathon was followed by Phase 3 and beyond, which involves multiple teams organizing an external exhibition event for the purpose of soliciting feedback and acquiring patents for commercialization.

Interview with IoT Business Division Head Takaaki Suga

Fujitsu and the IoT

For Fujitsu, the main focus is on the question of how IoT can provide value to the wider world, based on the principle of Human Centric IoT. What this means is that we at Fujitsu have to provide actual services that demonstrate to users the amazing benefits of this technology and in turn raise awareness of it. At the same time, we need to provide the means and the motivation to create new ideas, new products and new services that utilize IoT. In order to convince people of the value inherent in the Internet of Things, we need to demonstrate how it can benefit us in our everyday lives. The Hackathon of course is just one approach for developing ideas and presenting them to the wider world.

The IoT Future Hackathon, a collaboration between FUJI HACK 2014 and Rikkyo University, illustrated the benefits of such events. And it also showed how Fujitsu is in a unique position to pursue the embodiment of the visions of the future described in the IoT Future Book, which were themselves developed through collaborations with Rikkyo University and the IoT vision workshop.

Takaaki Suga, head of the IoT Business Division, Network Services Unit

What the Hackathon Meant for the IoT Business Division

From here, the Hackathon can go in one of two directions. It could be expanded as a forum for bringing together ideas from various different divisions and departments; or it could be given a narrower scope with a focus on pursuing commercial opportunities. The IoT Business Division at Fujitsu is in charge of project operations, so it makes sense that we are in charge of the Hackathon, since we are ideally positioned to harness the innovations that come out of the event. The Hackathon should not be an isolated event; it should be adopted as an ongoing innovation program, part of the Fujitsu corporate culture. The key issue for the future is how to transform the initial prototype ideas and concepts from the Hackathon into genuine commercial prospects.

Creating the Future with New Commercialization Processes

It is tremendously important to tackle the challenge of imagining the future and giving it form. Anyone can talk or write about their ideas for the future, but to actually draw the ideas, shape them, produce models of them--this takes it to another level altogether. Once you get to that stage, you gain insights on a higher plane. A designer, for instance, can take a basic idea for a product and give it form. Then other people are inspired by the picture of the product and come up with related ideas that add value. Next, an engineer fabricates a prototype of the product, which in turn generates more good ideas. It is an ongoing cycle where ideas evolve and take form and spawn new ideas, and the process repeats itself and creates a steady stream of innovation. This approach is a tremendously effective way to harness the collective expertise of a variety of different people for the purpose of creating something new. In fact, it may be the best approach there is.

Our focus will now switch to the next stage of the IoT Business Division Hackathon initiative, namely, transforming prototypes into genuine business propositions. This includes setting up a commercialization structure, seeking patents, and establishing a presence at exhibitions and industry shows.

To this end, we have launched IoT Future UX, an ongoing program designed to stimulate new business opportunities and provide the necessary framework and background.